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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
A series of November storms brought heavy rain and flooding to the lowlands and a new blanket of snow to the Olympic high country.The park's road crew has been busy clearing storm-damaged and debris-strewn roadways, but will shift its attention this week to plowing snow on the Hurricane Ridge Road.
"Thanksgiving weekend is our traditional kickoff for the snow season at Hurricane Ridge," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. "This year, we're giving people an extra incentive to get outside, with free entry to all park areas on the day after Thanksgiving."
A full listing of winter services and facility schedules for the Hurricane Ridge area is shown below.
Hurricane Ridge Road
Weather permitting;the Hurricane Ridge Road is scheduled to be open Friday through Sunday and Monday holidays from November 27, 2015 through March 27, 2016.The road is also scheduled to be open daily from Saturday, December 26 through January 3, 2016.
All vehicles, including four wheel drive, are required to carry tire chains when traveling above the Heart O'the Hills entrance station between November 15 and April 1."Having a set of chains in every vehicle gives an extra safety margin when road conditions worsen during the day," said Superintendent Creachbaum.
Winter storms can close or delay opening of the Hurricane Ridge Road;high winds and blizzard conditions are not uncommon.Road and weather condition updates are available on the park's Road and Weather Hotline at (360) 565-3131 or @HRWinterAccess on Twitter.
The Hurricane Ridge Road may also close temporarily if the parking lot becomes completely full.Park staff urges Hurricane Ridge visitors to carpool and pay extra attention to making the best possible use of the parking area.
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is open Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays beginning December 12 and daily from December 26 through January 3, 2016.
Before December 12, and on Fridays when the building is not staffed, only the foyer which includes an indoor restroom will be open.
Beginning December 12, the information desk will be staffed on weekends and Monday holidays through March 27, 2016.The information desk will also be staffed daily from December 26 through January 3.
Snack Bar and Ski Shop
The Hurricane Ridge snack bar and ski shop, with both ski and snowshoe rentals, is scheduled to be open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekends and holiday Mondays from Saturday, December 13 through March 27, 2016;it will also be open daily from December 26 through January 3, 2016.
Ranger-Led Snowshoe Walks
Ranger-led snowshoe walks for individuals and families are offered at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays from December 19 through March 27, as well as Friday, January 1, 2016. The walks last 90 minutes and are less than one mile in length. A $7 participation fee is charged for adults, with a $3 fee for youth from 6-15 years old. Admission is free for children five years of age and younger.
Space on the walks is limited, so people should sign up at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center information desk beginning 30 minutes before the scheduled walk.
Organized groups such as youth or school groups must make advance reservations for snowshoe walks. Group snowshoe walks are provided Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays at 10:30 a.m. for groups holding reservations.Space is limited, so group leaders should call Olympic National Park at (360) 565-3136 for reservations and more information.
Downhill Ski, Snowboard and Tubing Area
Weather permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Ski, Snowboard and Tubing Area will operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays beginning Sunday, December 6 through March 27, 2016.The area is also scheduled to be open daily from December 26 through January 3, 2016. More information about the Hurricane Ridge downhill ski and snowboard area is available at hurricaneridge.com.
Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Opportunities for cross-country skiers and snowshoe walkers range from open, level meadows near the visitor center to extreme terrain in the park's wilderness backcountry.Anyone skiing or snowshoeing beyond the immediate Hurricane Ridge area should sign-in at the registration box in the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center andbe prepared for steep terrain and the possibility of avalanches.Although close to town, Hurricane Ridge is subject to extreme winter conditions, including sudden storms, white-outs and avalanche, making planning and preparation for winter conditions vitally important.
Information about ski and snowshoe routes and trails is available at park visitor centers, the Olympic National Park website or the park's visitor newspaper, the Bugler.
Overnight Wilderness Camping
Overnight wilderness camping is permitted in the Hurricane Ridge area with advance registration.Winter camps must be at least one-half mile from the Hurricane Ridge parking area.Overnight parking is not permitted at Hurricane Ridge;parking and shuttle options are explained at the time of registration. More information is available by calling Olympic National Park Visitor Center &Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100 or 360-565-3130.
Up-to-date information about weather and avalanche risk is available from the Northwest Avalanche Center on the web at www.nwac.us/ or by calling 206-526-6677.Anyone planning to venture beyond the maintained downhill ski area or the immediate Hurricane Ridge area should always check with the Northwest Avalanche Center or a ranger for current conditions.
Hurricane Ridge Webcam and Weather Station
Hurricane Ridge weather conditions are available on the park's website at www.nps.gov/olymand then clicking on "Webcams".The webcam image is updated every 15 minutes (although severe weather can cause webcam outages);weather station information is provided hourly.
Tubing and Sliding
The Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard area operates a tubing park;check hurricaneridge.com for cost information, details and updates.
Tubing and sliding are permitted free of charge for children eight years of age and younger, at the Small Children's Snowplay Area just west of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.If conditions become too dangerous for sliding, the Small Children's Snowplay Area will be closed.
Olympic National Park Visitor Center
The Olympic National Park Visitor Center &Wilderness Information Center at the base of Hurricane Ridge Road, is open daily throughout the winter from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
More information about visiting Hurricane Ridge and other areas of Olympic National Park is available at www.nps.gov/olym.